Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Immortality

The Turritopsis Jellyfish can age backwards, from adult to baby, and can do so infinite times. If threatened by disease, starvation, or other crises, it can revert to a blob of cells in an embryonic state. Those cells can differentiate into whatever cell is needed- a cell that started life as a muscle cell, can become a sensory cell, for example. The catch is that this process can only happen when the Immortal Jellyfish is under some sort of stress or danger. Old age alone will not allow it to defy death and go back to the jellyfish cradle. It can and will often die of old age.

My son sent me this information yesterday morning. I know he is close to finals time in his second year of law school.
"Taking a break from studying?" I asked, as I perused the Immortal Jellyfish article he had just sent across the gmail chat box.
"No, in class," he typed back.
"Is the professor discussing Immortal Jellyfish? No, I didn't think so...."
Good to see my son taking his studies so seriously...

But the article was intriguing. I wonder if scientists have hopped on this little fountain of youth and dissected just what mechanism triggers this process. If they bottled it, it would be more valuable than diamonds. And why, why, why did God waste this miracle of eternity on a jellyfish? Of all the creatures that I would love to see bounce back from mortal injury, the jellyfish is not on my list. Inscrutable. (Good SAT word, Asherel, look it up.) God's ways are clearly not my ways.

I have been increasingly convicted that I know nothing of God. I believe He is real, I believe He loves us, I believe He speaks to us, but the more I know Him, the less I really understand Him. So why have I spent two years every single day writing about His messages that I believe He is transmitting? I don't know. I don't understand that either. I just feel I am supposed to.

But immortality to a jellyfish? I mean, jellyfish don't even have brains. All they have is a loose network of nerves called a nerve net. They don't have a backbone either. Why, why, why did God give immortality to a brainless, spineless blob?

Let us reason together here, Lord.
Careful, mortal one, remember, you do have a brain and a backbone. Do you really want to be a jellyfish? 
Well no, that is not the point. You are the creator. You could have made the jellyfish die and us immortal.
Yes, and were you to live on forever in the state of rebellion and sin you are currently exhibiting, do you think that would have been wise?
Well, do you have to phrase it in such a negative way?
Or even kind?
But Lord, the jellyfish can't even know or care that it is going to live forever. We humans do!
You humans don't value what you can't lose.
Now that is just not true! I value sunsets, and the sound of waves crashing upon the beach, and the trillium blooming in the forest....
That's because you are mortal. Remember, even the poet said, " And since to look at things in bloom,  fifty springs are little room, about the woodland I will go to see the cherry hung in snow."


I paused in my musings. He could be right there. How many times have I tried to cajole Asherel to go out on a walk with me on a beautiful day and she refuses,  answering, "There will be more beautiful days..."
What if there really would not be? Would we never appreciate the beauty we have if it were never to end?

Besides, mortal one, lest you forget, I have given you immortality. But I have given it in a way that only a creature with a brain could capture it. It has to be a choice. The jellyfish has no capacity for choice. You do.

Romans 6: 3-8, 22-23
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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